How to choose the best channel manager for your hotel

Looking to grow your business, spend more time with guests and less time manually updating rooms and rates across your distribution channels? Then you might want to implement a channel manager solution. This article will help you determine the right channel manager for your hotel.

What is a hotel channel manager? 

A hotel channel manager is a software system that connects a hotel reservation system (also called a property management system – PMS) with distribution channels such as online travel agencies (OTAs). Information then flows – updating rates and availability and retrieving reservations -- minimizing the risk of overbooking, managing rate parity and generally making it easier to offer rooms for sale online. All hotels, from chains to small inns, large independent properties to guest houses, benefit from having a channel manager. 

Does your hotel need a channel manager? 

The short answer is yes. The joy of working in hospitality comes from engaging guests, not from interacting with systems. If you’re spending hours a day on basic tasks and worrying about overselling your rooms, a channel manager software solution could be for you. 

Benefits include: 

  • Less time spent manually updating rates and availability across multiple distribution channels
  • Reduce risk of error and over booking through automated, real-time inventory updates
  • Maximize occupancy by reducing out-of-date inventory and the number of missed booking opportunities
  • Maintain control over your listing, photos and policies
  • Improve distribution decision making by having a single dashboard for performance reporting

 

Which channel manager is right for your hotel? 

Choosing a channel manager is an important business decision. We’ve compiled the different factors you should take into consideration to help you select the right provider.

1. Compatability with PMS

Finding a channel manager with the ability for a two-way sync with your property management system (PMS) is recommended. This means you won’t need to manually capture reservation details in your internal systems—it automatically manages bookings.

Some channel manager software has a lag when syncing with your PMS. Depending on the size of your property and the frequency of your bookings, make sure to find out how long to expect this to take before making a choice.

If you’re already using a PMS, your provider will be able to suggest compatible channel managers.

2. Connections to your most important distribution channels

Based on your distribution strategy, and the segments you’d like to target, does the channel manager connect to the most important channels for reaching your audience? Does it connect to a broad range of channels so you can adapt your distribution strategy to attract different types of guests further down the line? Is it compatible with the channels you are already using?

Think about the features each channel manager supports. For example, many OTAs have software and tools to pull through your information, which may not be supported by all channel managers.

3. Pooled inventory

Pooled inventory means that all your available rooms can show across all your distribution channels at the same time. When a booking is made on any of these channels, the channel manager software automatically updates all channels, communicating that this room is no longer available.

Not all channel managers offer pooled inventory, so consider how valuable this time-saving tool will be for your business when making your choice.

4. Cost

Channel managers come with a range of different pricing models. Some work on a compensation basis, while others have a monthly fee based on room size. Some have added costs for setup and for adding new channels. Some have a commitment to a minimum time period when signing up. Based on your budget and needs, carefully analyze which channel manager is best for you.

As with anything, the more you pay, the more features and higher quality service you will receive, so be sure to consider realistically what sacrifices you can afford to make if you are working with a modest budget.

5. Analytics and reporting

In today’s marketplace, it’s essential to choose a channel manager that provides detailed analytics and reporting capabilities. The more information you have about your booking volume, revenue and competitors, the better you will be able to refine your revenue strategy and your distribution strategy.

6. Centralized content management

Can you update your photos, amenities, points of interest and offers in one place centrally? This tool helps you keep your listings fresh and consistent across all your channels, saving you time and helping convince travelers to book your rooms.

7. Support

A good support team is essential to be sure that any problems you have are resolved as quickly as possible. Find out the level of support you will receive, and any extra costs, before making your decision.

Making your decision

Once you have considered the elements above, it’s time to make an informed decision about the best channel manager for your property. 

If you’re already an Expedia Group partner, log into Partner Central to access our global Connectivity Provider Guide to help identify the channel partners supporting your market. This guide will help you narrow your search for a channel manager based on the criteria that’s important to you. Compare up to three providers side-by-side. If you’re not yet a partner, sign up today!